Blackhawks hold off Canadiens, pass Wild for first in Central

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The Montreal Canadiens made a big push to rally back from a 3-0 deficit, but Corey Crawford & Co. held them off enough for a 4-2 win on Tuesday.

(Yes, Crawford made it through the entire game despite that scary Shea Weber shot to the head/mask.)

With the Washington Capitals defeating the Wild in regulation, the door was open for the Blackhawks to move back into first place in the Central Division:

1. Blackhawks – 93 points in 69 games
2. Wild – 92 points in 68 games

As you can see, Minnesota does hold a game in hand, but Chicago’s done a resounding job of erasing what was once a robust division lead for the Wild.

They’ve done so in a way that’s fairly predictable, as big names like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have just been on fire lately. In Tuesday’s case, Kane was the standout, scoring a goal and two assists to keep him in the conversation for the Maurice Richard and Art Ross races.

His goal was something that will probably leave Claude Julien grumbling:

While the Blackhawks move ahead of their division rivals at least for a night, the Canadiens’ grip on the Atlantic Division lead seems to be slipping. About the only good news is that Tampa Bay grabbed the extra point by beating Ottawa in overtime on Tuesday:

1. Canadiens – 86 points in 70 games
2. Senators – 85 points in 68 games

Yep, that’s a shaky lead. At least the Canadiens don’t need to deal with the rising Blackhawks again this season, as the two would only meet again if they squared off in a 2017 Stanley Cup Final.